Supporting your mental health and wellbeing

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Learn about how to support your physical, mental and social health when you have a chronic condition.

Balancing your everyday responsibilities

Growing up can be hard at times. You need to balance your everyday responsibilities like school with becoming more independent.

If you have a chronic condition, this balancing act becomes more complicated. Now, you need to manage doctor’s appointments, your medication schedule and, sometimes, tests and procedures. All this can get in the way of going to school or seeing your friends.

It’s important to learn how to take care of yourself. A big part of this is knowing when and how to ask for help.

Taking care of your chronic condition means taking care not only of your physical health but also your mental and social health. Here are some ideas to help you get the support you need.

Being with all of your experiences

How to use: This animation explains why pushing away unwanted thoughts, feelings and sensations can often make a situation worse. Use it when you are finding it hard to focus on the people and things that are important to you, or if you are spending too much energy avoiding your unwanted thoughts or feelings. After the video, take a moment to let all of your thoughts, feelings and sensations be with you, without pushing any of them away.

Taking care of your physical health

  • Take your medication and do your exercises as prescribed.
  • Stay in contact with your healthcare team and ask questions if you are unsure of anything. Write down your questions so you don’t forget them at your next appointment.
  • Keep track of any symptoms that come up in the weeks or months between your medical appointments. It can be easy to forget what you have been experiencing over several months if you feel differently on the day or two before your next appointment.
  • If you find it hard to cope with symptoms, consider asking your healthcare team for support to learn new coping strategies. Some healthcare providers specialize in helping kids and teens learn to cope with physical symptoms such as nausea and pain that might not go away completely.

Taking care of your mental health

Joyaudio

How to use: This guided audio meditation helps you connect with joy. Use it when you’d like to take a break or when you’re dealing with unwanted thoughts, physical sensations or emotions. Follow along with the meditation, connecting with the natural rhythm of your breath and exploring a joyful memory.

  • Find someone you trust, such as family, friends, coaches or teachers, and tell them how you feel. It is important to be open about your feelings.
  • Make time to take care of yourself, take breaks and do fun and relaxing things. It can be helpful to try to treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. What would you tell or suggest to a friend who was feeling the same way as you?
  • If you are having trouble with high levels of stress, worries or sadness, talk to your medical team about helping you find someone who can help. This can be a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or another mental health professional. There are people who specialize in helping children and teens living with a chronic condition.
The mountainaudio

How to use: This guided audio meditation helps you find a sense of stillness within yourself. Use it to find a place of stillness within your mind and body when you are feeling upset or agitated. Follow along with the meditation, taking time to visualize yourself as grounded and strong, like a mountain.

If you ever have thoughts of harming yourself because of your chronic condition, seek help immediately.

Taking care of your social life

  • Stay connected to family and friends. If you cannot do this in person, stay connected through video or phone calls, messaging or texts.
  • Keep up with your hobbies and extracurricular activities whenever you can. Even if you can’t participate fully, you may be able to attend events or games to stay connected to your team.
  • Meet other people who are living with the same chronic condition as you (or something similar). It can be helpful to be around people who ‘get it’. They can often also give you tips and tricks on coping well with symptoms.

Many different therapies can help address the physical, mental and social symptoms related to living with a chronic condition. These include approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness, dialectical behavioural therapy, emotion-focused therapy or interpersonal therapy – just to name a few! Different approaches work for different people and different situations.

Self-compassionaudio

How to use: This guided audio meditation helps you develop kindness and compassion towards yourself. Use this meditation to acknowledge physical pain or unpleasant emotions without harshness or judgment. Follow along with the meditation, noticing your breath and recognizing unpleasant sensations as useful signals.

Asking for help when you need it is hard, but it’s also rewarding. Remember that everybody needs support from time to time. Your friends, family, healthcare team and other professionals can help you develop the skills and practices you need to do well and enjoy life despite your chronic condition.

Last updated: March 22nd 2019